Saturday, 24 December 2011

Christmas Hearts

This Christmas . . .  my heart is overflowing with love for my wonderful family and they joy they bring to my life.

And this says it all . . .

Whether it's the family you're born into or the family of loved ones you've gathered around your heart . . . whether they are close by or far away . . .

From my family to yours . . . wishing you a safe and happy Christmas.

Pattern: Christmas Heart
Designer: Christine Book

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Look What the Postman Delivered . . .

Have you seen the Etzcetera Magazine? It's a fantastic online crafty lifestyle magazine. Issue 1 is available for free and subscription to subsequent issues is a bargain. I subscribed and entered a competition . . . and I won this . . .

It's a mini magnetic locket by Cat Ivins from Olive Bites Studio,  featuring the work of artist, YaelFran. It's made from "a recycled steel auto part that with the help of a strong little magnet turns one piece of jewelry into many!" I love Cat's philosophy of "doing more with less".

Thanks so much to Kim Archer from Etzcetera Magazine for running the competition and for showcasing artisans with unique and quirky talents. If you get a chance, check out the magazine, and also Cat's blog/etsy store.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Oh Christmas Tree

Finished! That's my "Oh Christmas Tree" stitchery from the Stitching On The Lake Day . . .

I framed the stitchery by stretching the fabric over a canvas, about 10" square. For the border I used some fabric that I've had in my stash for many, many years, so it was nice to work with what I already had. I've always liked this fabric, but haven't ever found the right thing to use it on. I think it's the mosaic look that I like.

I really enjoyed stitching this little tree. There were a lot of leaves to stitch, but the filigree look of the tree really appeals to me, so all those leaves were worth it . . . I love the multi-coloured tails on the birds, too.  This is one of those designs that would also look good in one colour - maybe white thread on red linen, or red thread on white . . .

I'm glad to see this tree hanging on my wall and think fondly of stitching with friends when I see it!

Pattern: Oh Christmas Tree
Designer: Sylvia Frazer

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Be Thankful

A little food for thought . . .

Be Thankful

Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire,
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?
Be thankful when you don’t know something
For it gives you the opportunity to learn.
Be thankful for the difficult times.
During those times you grow.
Be thankful for your limitations
Because they give you opportunities for improvement.
Be thankful for each new challenge
Because it will build your strength and character.
Be thankful for your mistakes
They will teach you valuable lessons.
Be thankful when you’re tired and weary
Because it means you’ve made a difference.
It is easy to be thankful for the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who are
also thankful for the setbacks.
GRATITUDE can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles
and they can become your blessings.
Author Unkown

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Stitching On The Lake

Well today I stitched and ate and chatted with some really lovely ladies (thanks Lee, Shirley, Penne and Stella for your company) at the biannual Stitching on the Lake day, hosted once again by the wonderful Sylvia and Fiona . . .

(from the stitching day in May, with thanks to Sylvia for the photo as I didn't take any pics myself today)
On arrival we were each greeted with a goodie bag with starter kits for 6 - yes 6! - projects. Now, I've finally learned from past experience that with all the eating and chatting going on, the likelihood of getting a project finished on the day is pretty slim, so I just chose my project and started stitching.

No deadline.

No stress.

Just relaxing and stitching.

I decided on the "Oh Christmas Tree" stitchery, which is just lovely in real life, very delicate and the leaves remind me of filigree. Lots of chain stitch and lazy daisies on this tree, which I think I will frame over a canvas.

I know it doesn't look like I did too much, but I did stitch all day - I promise!

I won't get this finished tonight, or maybe even this weekend, but one thing I do know - I am enjoying the process with this project, just stitching for pleasure. And really, isn't that what it's all about?

Pattern: Oh Christmas Tree Stitchery
Designer: Sylvia Frazer

Monday, 26 September 2011

Life Is...




We enjoyed a family long-weekend at Lake Crackenback, in the beautiful Snowy Mountains.

Imagine opening your eyes to this - it's the view we woke up to!

And it was great! It's different now, holidaying with our adult children. I loved our holidays when the kids were little (camping mostly), but the freedom of holidaying with grown-ups is quite liberating. And I like it.

We lounged around our chalet, enjoyed the spa and the fire.

We played in the snow.

We had great food . . .

Great music . . .

And lots of laughs.

This is what it's all about for me - spending time with my favorite people in the world.

Life is good!

Monday, 19 September 2011

I Retreated.

I stitched.

And I loved it!

I was fortunate to spend a weekend recently at the Stitching at the Water's Edge stitching retreat hosted by Kim and her wonderful team from the Jukejema Quilting Barn (Carol was fantastic and Kim's mum, Marg stitched a special gift for EVERY stitcher's gift bag).

The guest tutors for the weekend were Anni Downs, Janelle Wind and Natalie Ross. All three of these really talented ladies had created special projects for the weekend. Their displays were very inspiring and, best of all, they were very generous teachers - sharing their skills, ideas and lots of fun and laughter. I didn't take too many photos over the weekend, so you can see more here, here, here, here, here and here.

Anni, Janelle, Kim and Natalie

Sylvia was my traveling companion for the weekend and with all the chatting that went on, the trip was over in a flash! (Thanks for the pics, Sylvia.) I also got to share the weekend with these wonderful ladies - Fiona, Karen, Asta, Shirley, Colleen and Shiree (Colleen and Shiree had travelled all the way from New Zealand to attend). Thank you all for being such great stitching buddies! 

L to R (back) Sylvia, Karen, Shirley, Sue, Fiona (front) Shiree, Anni and Colleen

It was great to meet some fellow bloggers in real life - Sandy, who did some amazing work (loved your scarf, Sandy) and Kate, who was a powerhouse of productivity on the weekend (and showed some wonderful quilts at show and tell - Jack's quilt was my pick on the night).
L to R: Sylvia, Sandy, Kate, Shiree, Fiona and Me

With so many lovely projects it was a tough decision of what I would work on. I decided to start with Anni's little felted wool bag. This has a naive style appliqué on the pocket. It was fun to make. And I got it finished!

I had some time left, so I decided to make one of Janelle's fabric flowers. The centre is a covered button with the little cross stitch I did back in April (while watching the royal wedding). I think this will become a journal wrap (future project in the making).

I so enjoyed spending time with like-minded ladies - it really lifted my spirits and gladdened my heart.  Thank you all so much for the fun, the company and the inspiration.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

OK - So Maybe I've Got a Pincushion Thing Going On

I guess it could be true.

I mean, I think I now have more pincushions than pins.

Is that bad? Maybe it needs to be stopped. Who knows?

I made this little biscornu from scraps from the Little Pretties Quilt. I'm not sure if the pinwheels quite show the quirky shape of the biscornu, but it is what it is!

And it has been added to this collection . . .

Maybe that is enough pincushions for one girl, but the thing I like about making them is that they are very achievable little projects in amongst the more long term quilt projects.

Will there be any more? What is it they say? Never say never . . .

Monday, 1 August 2011

Vintage 1986

I have a bit of a thing for Blackbird Designs patterns.

I love the vintage-ness.

I love the sentimentality.

When I saw this pattern, I knew right away that I wanted to do it.

But who would I choose to remember with it?

Well I chose us!

1986 is the year we were married. I modified the pattern to add our initials and a heart. I chose the colour to remember the apricot theme we wanted to have at our wedding (rather than the pink we ended up having, due to influences stronger than our own!).

This pincushion was lined with calico and filled with silica sand. Another sturdy pincushion and serious paperweight!

Pattern: Vintage Pincushion
Designer: Blackbird Designs
Publication: Joyeux Noel
Fabric: 32 Count Belfast Linen, "Mushroom"
Thread: Simply Shaker Sampler Threads, "Fragrant Cloves" 7026
Size: 8" x 3 1/2"

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Where Do I Come From?

Who came before me?

Who has influenced my life?

Well, I've been spending quite a bit of time working on our family tree. I've spent time at the Australian National Library looking at old newspapers from 1864.

And what have I found?

That while some things change, some things stay the same. Families loved each other and mourned  when they were gone. Some things then seemed better and some things seemed harder.

Just like now.

While I look back with a nostalgic "how much simpler it seemed then" view, advertisers were still telling you that you needed this or that, that you'd look, better, fitter, taller, thinner with this or that. That your home or life wouldn't be complete without the newest this or that.

It's interesting to me to put into perspective the life experiences of my ancestors and see how some of those events would have strongly influenced the following generations. It's funny to feel such a strong identification with generations long since gone and never known, but I do.

This genealogy research can just consume hours and hours without me even realising it. But I like it. I just need more hours in the day now!

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Civil War Catch Up - Blocks 24, 25, 26, 27 & 28

It's catchup time - I have been sewing, just not blogging! So here they are - the next installment in the Block of the week from Barbara Brackman . . .

Block 24 - "Ladies Aid Album"

Block 25 - "Calico Puzzle"

Block 26 - "Barbara Frietchie Star"

Block 27 - "Irish Chain"

and Block 28 - "Next Door Neighbour"

Pattern: Civil War Quilts - Block 24 - "Ladies Aid Album"
Pattern: Civil War Quilts - Block 25 - "Calico Puzzle"
Pattern: Civil War Quilts - Block 26 - "Barbara Frietchie Star"
Pattern: Civil War Quilts - Block 27 - "Irish Chain"
Pattern: Civil War Quilts - Block 28 - "Next Door Neighbour"

Designer: Barbara Brackman

Monday, 18 July 2011

Remember Me . . .

When this you see.

That's the verse on the top of this gorgeous little pincushion. It's a Leanne Beasley design from Issue 3 of her Vignette magazine. I love the design. And the story that Leanne shared of her father-in-law struck a chord with me too.

As I was stitching away on this project I found my mind wandering to thoughts of my "stitching" grandparents - 2 are gone now, but I'm still fortunate enough to get to make memories with one of my grandmothers.

One grandfather worked as a tailor's cutter. He actually bought a Singer treadle machine a few weeks after they were married and taught my grandmother to sew! Some years later they got a motor for the treadle and converted it. She went on to make her own clothes and even earn an income from doing alterations for a local fashion store.

My other grandmother had a treadle sewing machine which I never saw anyone use, but I certainly loved to "treadle" it when I was little. Apparently she did use it to make curtains and things for her home and later on got a "modern" electric machine. I didn't really know her as a sewer until she was well into her 60s and joined a local patchwork group. I think of her often now that I'm a "patchworker" myself and wish that I'd had more time to share a common interest with her.

So the back of this pincushion remembers 2 grandmothers and a grandfather with their initials and years of birth.

The stitching was done using a Japanese thread, Moco. I loved the variegated mauves and greens, so I thought I'd give it a try. A word of caution, though. This thread is 100% polyester and does NOT like a hot iron. I pressed the stitching the right way - from the back, using a towel . . . but I made the mistake of going back for just one more little press! Without the towel! Lucky it was on the back and there wasn't too much damage, but it did melt the thread a little. A trap for young players!

I filled the pincushion with silica sand, so even though its quite petite (about 4 1/2" across), it weighs 460 grams (about 1 lb). I really like the substance of a weighty pincushion - and it comes in pretty handy as a paperweight, too!

Pattern: Rosemary for Rememberance Pinchusion
Designer: Leanne Beasley
Publication: Vingnette Magazine, Issue 3

Fabric: Hanky Linen
Thread: Moco, Colour 819 (100% Polyester)

Friday, 10 June 2011

Civil War Blocks 22 and 23 x 3!

Block 22 - "Blockade" - the block with many triangles - is done and I quite like it.

Although there were a lot of triangles to be pieced, it all went together well and kept its correct size.

Block 23 - "Illinois Roads" . . . now that's another story.

A quick and easy block, you might say.

And it was.

Except . . .

It looked boring to me when it was done.

So what's a girl to do? Unpick - that's what.

So I did.

No use wasting perfectly good fabric, right? So I delved back into the stash and choose 2 more fabrics.

And the result was  . . . Version 2

and Version 3

I'm much happier with these than with Version 1. Fabric selection really is everything with this block, that's for sure.

And since it's not too far from half way through this quilt, it's time to lay it out and see what I've got so far. I'm thinking the blocks will be on point, which means I'll have to start thinking about half blocks for the edges. And the colour of the sashing is still open for discussion, but there's plenty of time yet.

So for now I'm feeling happy with what I've done and looking forward to what's still to come. And I'm loving the process. Block of the week - definitely a concept that works for me!

Pattern: Civil War Quilts - Block 22 - "Blockade"
Pattern: Civil War Quilts - Block 23 - "Illinois Roads"
Designer: Barbara Brackman

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Foundation Piecing Mariner's Compass

Recently I attended a workshop with Chris Jurd to learn how to do foundation piecing. And this Mariner's Compass is what I made . . .

While it took me a while to get the hang of it, once I got going I found this technique pretty good. Chris is a very generous teacher - very patient and encouraging. So if you find yourself in a position to take one of her classes, I'm sure you won't be disappointed.

So now I have a central medallion that needs some borders to become a "real" quilt! I've got a little stash of batiks, so I'm not short of fabric to make something larger. It's just deciding what to do that's holding me back. Oh well, I'm sure the fabric will still be here when the inspiration takes me . . .

Pattern: Mariner's Compass
Designer: Chris Jurd

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Scandinavian Stitching

I had been seeing the book "Scandinavian Needlecraft" all over the internet and then I came across this pattern here.

I couldn't resist.

I had to make it.

I made it the size on the template (not the enlarged version), so it's quite small - only 5 1/2" from the base to the top of the handle.

How cute is this bag?

Wait, what's that I see? Oh yes, I do believe it's more felt on my horizon!

Pattern: scandinavian-style felt bag with embroidered bird
Designer: Clare Youngs
Publication: Scandinavian Needlecraft: 35 Step-by-step Projects to Create the Scandinavian Home

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Catalicious Complete

Well you may remember I started stitching the blocks in Red Brolly's Catalicious BOM way back in February 2010 with the intention of making a runner for the end of our bed, where the cat sleeps . . . (looking at the picture I should just point out that the blocks are big - about 18" square - but the cat is not)

It's finally finished!

But . . .

It hasn't quite made it to the end of the bed.

Since it was "just" for the end of the bed and "just" for the cat (sorry Squeaker) . . .

I used what I had on hand to finish it off. So it's got a piece of Minky fabric left over from another project for the lining. And it's backed with chenille (different coloured pieces joined together to fit) and bound with leftover binding too.

But then . . . it's turned out to be the most comfy quilt to use while we're sitting on the lounge - soft and cosy and snuggly! So for now it's the go-to quilt on the cold evenings. The end of the bed will just have to wait!

Pattern: Catalicious Block of the Month
Designer: Bronwyn Hayes

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Civil War Quilts - Blocks 18, 19, 20 & 21

Well I had a bit of catching up to do . . .

Block 18 - Union Square

Block 19 - Missouri Star and

Block 20 - New England Block.

This week's block - 21 - is Underground Railroad. It was pretty quick to piece. Once again, the choosing of the fabric took longer than the stitching!!! I've added the pink because the pink in Block 8 - Cotton Boll - still visually dominates, so this is to help balance it up in the overall scheme of things.

Now I'm back on track!

Pattern: Civil War Quilts - Block 18 - Union Square
Pattern: Civil War Quilts - Block 19 - Missouri Star
Pattern: Civil War Quilts - Block 20 - New England Block
Pattern: Civil War Quilts - Block 21 - Underground Railroad

Designer: Barbara Brackman

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Canvas Work Pin Cushion

What could be better than spending a day stitching with a group of like-minded ladies? That's exactly what I did at the Stitching On The Lake day, hosted once again by Sylvia and Fiona.

The day begins with a wonderful bag of goodies - kits for 6 lovely stitching projects.

Then the dilemma . . .  which one to do first!

I decided to do this canvas work pin cushion because I hadn't really done this sort of thing before and thought I'd give it a try.

For some reason it took me a while to get my head around it. I don't know why. I mean, I don't have any trouble with counted cross stitch, but getting started and counting correctly on this one took its toll. I unpicked the centre a couple of times due to mis-counting, but then, once I got going I was alright!

I chose colours that looked a bit Civil War era to me in the thread box, but the end result feels more Moroccan! I'm really pleased with the end result. The little band around the sides looks like a hat band. The 2 stitches are rice stitch and long legged cross stitch - I really like the braid effect with that one I must say. The whole thing is quite petite at just 2 1/2" square, which I think adds to the appeal.

I don't think this is the end of my canvas work adventure . . . more like just the beginning!

Pattern: Canvas work Pincushion
Designer: Peaceful Threads By Fiona
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